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Scotti Valeria1, De Silvestri Annalisa2, Rebuffi Chiara3 , Funda Topuz1, Scudeller Luigia4, Curti Moreno1


1. Scientific Documentation Service, Scientific Direction, IRCCS Policlinic San Matteo Foundation, Pavia, Italy

2. Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Scientific Direction, IRCCS Policlinic San Matteo Foundation, Pavia, Italy

3. Scientific Direction IRCCS Istituto Giannina Gaslini,Genova, Italy

4. Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics – Scientific Direction IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico Foundation, Milano, Italy



The first source of research waste chain is the limited relevance of many research questions to patients. Taking into account their opinion in selecting research priorities should lead to an improvement in research and a decrease in waste. Alternative metrics claim to measure research impact outside the academic community. We argue that designing research not only based on systematic reviews of the available evidence (Evidence-Based Research), but also on papers and themes more discussed by the public could bring to less wasteful research. We will discuss opportunities and caveats about employing alternative metrics into setting research priorities.


The starting point was the annual Altmetrics Top 100 ranking, a list that highlights last year’s research that has received significant international attention and discussion online. From this ranking, we have selected the categories Medical Health Science (54 articles) and Biological Science (6 articles) for a total of 60 publications.


We extrapolated the Altimetrics data and we correlated the mentions on Facebook (impact on society) with those of Mendeley (impact on the research community). The correlation was good (Spearman Rho=0.53; p<0.01). Nevertheless, we found some discrepancies: some articles with the highest interest in Facebook (for example, one about Alcohol use and one about Organic Food Consumption and Cancer Risk) found little response in Mendeley and vice versa articles with the highest interest in Mendeley have few Facebooks Mention (two articles about brain hippocampus).


Topics that have aroused greater interest in the community (organic foods, cancer) can be affected by fashion or influenced by external and private events. This could penalize the most common diseases that people do not like to talk about (sexual transmission diseases, zoonosis, brain diseases). Alternative metrics suggest a new field to explore: more close to patient’s needs, the more useful research could be.


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